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Inciting fear of imprisoned terrorists?

Ahmed Ressam I concede that the 1st Amendment bars the government from forbidding false claims about one's exploits on the battlefield, but what about making false insinuations about someone else's exploits in the war on terror?

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, the California-based Tea Party Express' venture into presidential politics, unveiled a 60-second television commercial  Monday that it plans to air in seven swing states. (It made its debut that day in Nevada.) The ad cites President Obama's "legacy of failure," punching such populist hot buttons as high unemployment, bank bailouts and high public worker salaries. (Never mind the vital role that Obama's predecessor played in all of these issues, particularly the bank bailouts, which were ordered in 2008.) It then intones: "And while Obama earns a reputation for incompetence around the globe, our borders here at home remain unsecured as drug traffickers and terrorists seek to exploit our negligence."

To accompany this accusation of Obamian inadequacy, the ad displays a series of images evidently grabbed from the Web. One shows a scary-looking man in a ski mask toting an assault weapon. In fact, it's an officer of the Mexican Judicial Police, and the image dates back at least to 2008. Another is a digitally darkened mug shot of Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian would-be terrorist arrested in 1999 while trying to enter the United States from Canada. Better known as the "Millennium Bomber," Ressam not only has nothing to do with Obama, his case represents a border-security success story. Probably the only things Ressam is seeking to exploit these days are his prison's library and pay phone.

I asked the campaign why it chose the picture of a guy whose offense dates back more than a decade. Spokesman Ryan J. Gill responded via email: "We used Ressam because his is a documented incident of a terrorist trying to exploit our weak borders to attack us. Of course anyone who was successful in exploiting that weakness, we wouldn't be able to identify."

I'll grant you that, Ryan. But that still doesn't explain how Ressam illustrates a failure on the part of Obama's border strategy. Or anyone else's, for that matter. You'd think there was enough in Obama's actual record for his opponents to run against without concocting horror stories out of whole cloth.

-- Jon Healey

Photo: Ahmed Ressam. Credit: AP Photo via a handout from the Montreal Police. Hat tip to TinEye.com for helping identify the images used in the commercial.


Comments () | Archives (20)

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Just a lame attempt by the author of this ridiculous piece to draw attention away from the many LEGIT problems the Obama administration DOES have right now...LOL


Another case of Republicans lying to their sheeple. This points out that there isn't much for the Republicans to fairly complain about. They want to go back to plantation politics. If you don't agree with them, they want to whip, beat or kill you. They are willing to lie, cheat or steal to win. They haven't quit fighting for slavery and their elitist lifestyle

Adam W

Have these people no shame? Blatant lie after blatant lie - and their supporters eat it up! Instead of having an open mind to plain old facts for even a moment, they live and breathe an absurd and hysterical narrative. These are people who look at the world around them, see it completely contradicts their pre-concieved notions, and instead of realizing that something is wrong with their thinking, they have to concoct a story that makes it all make sense to them. The fact that their story has no basis in reality highlights the moral and factual bankruptcy of their political beliefs.

P J Evans

It's all about non-white people.



Republicans "dont have much to fairly complain about" regarding Obama?

LOL...you gotta be kidding?

You Obamabots never got tired of blaming the high gasoline prices on Bush, but now that we're returning to $4+ a gallon you hypocrites give Obama a total pass.

The economy has gone even further into the tank, but of course you Obamabots quickly guzzle the Kool-Aid when your socialist messiah continues to blame it all on Bush, nearly 3 years after the fact.

With troops already committed to Iraq & Afghanistan, Obama is somehow finding it in the "national interest" to get involved in Libya, supporting rebel troops who have already been shown to include Al Qaeda & other RADICAL Islamist extremists who could eventually be in positions of power that will allow them to enforce their Draconian, barbaric system known as Sharia Law.

Also on Obama's watch, Egypt is leaning more & more in the direction of FUNDAMENTALIST Islam with the grand-daddy of MILITANT Islamists known as the Muslim Brotherhood gaining political momentum BY THE DAY.

Dont be too surprised if most of North Africa & the Middle East becomes increasingly radicalized to the point where insane thinking like the following is actually put into practice in nations like Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, etc.


% of Muslims who want DEATH PENALTY for those leaving Islam:

Egypt (84%)

Pakistan (82%)


% of Muslims endorsing STONING TO DEATH of adulterers (98% WOMEN):

Egypt (82%)

Pakistan (76%)



The Tea Party is lying and using fear mongering propaganda? I thought that was a GOP tactic. Sounds a lot like a how they claimed a war hero was a coward while defended the draft dodger as a patriot. Amazing amount of stupidity in this world.


This is absolutely ridiculous - have the Republicans forgotten who CREATED these problems for Obama in the first place? Obama inherited George W. Bush's mess and we're expecting him to wave his magic wand and fix everything within 2 years? Please...

Herb O'Fallon

Mr. Healy,
As a Conservative, I think it is dangerous that the U.S government wastes so much of our resources (and lives, of course) in the Middle East when we practically ignore our southern border with Mexico. And I'm sorry to say that President Bush was also guilty.
Washington seems hell-bent to fight occupational wars on the other side of the globe which we are not capable of winning, yet seems to forget we have a back door that has been left considerably ajar.
Our priorities seem way misguided and will, I fear, over some more time, cost us a price we will not be happy to pay.

Illegal immigration is something we have failed at miserably. I think it was an article by that wonderful lady, Michelle Malkin, who pointed out in full detail the laws the Mexican government has toward illegal immigrants coming into their country, and how those laws are quite the opposite of ours. In other words, Mexico definitely doesn't want the U.S. to observe the same laws against illegal immigrants that they themselves do.
Our government in Washington seems to play the fool in just about every ballgame in town.
I feel for the American public, the American taxpayer. We get screwed at every turn, and not even a goodnight kiss on the way out the door.

In my opinion, Barack Hussein Obama, who can't even show where he was born, is probably the worst president that has ever graced the doorway of the White House.


This sounds like more FOX NEWS..........Didn't they come up with the tea party............

Mitchell Young

What? Partisans being less than meticulous in their use of images in a campaign? I'm shocked, shocked.

Funny thing is that the LA Times seems to allow similar looseness in its columnists. Just today Greg Rodriguez's column on 'civility' mentioned " campaign ads that superimpose target sights on candidates' heads..." presumably an allusion to the Palin 'target' controversy. Surely Rodriguez knows that no such campaign ads existed, that the 'targets' in question were drawn in the general area of congressional districts on a map, not candidates' heads. But he and his editors let his 'candidates heads' 'error' slide. It's a more effective image, so what the heck.


Dear Verballistic,

Loosen up the tinfoil. Maybe that will help.



Forget for a moment the "artwork" used for illustration, and focus on the actual complaints:

US border remain porous, and as a consequence, leave the US citizenry vulnerable to assault from invading thugs.

Has the Obama administration done anything to notably improve border security? If so-- tell us about it. If not, the ad's sin is cosmetic.

Bank bailouts escalated under the Obama administration.

If this was a failed concept, why did he continue. GW Bush policies had no binding authority on the Obama administration.

If you can find nothing more to complain about than the artwork in the commercial-- you've lost the debate before it began.


Gee, where's Bachman-- anywhere there are lies, one would expect to find her!


To blaspheme the Messiah should be a capitol offense.
It says so in the Koran.
When sharia law is enacted, Healey can be the first to throw stones.

Jon Healey

@mege -- I'm no expert on immigration issues, but Obama increased funding for border patrol agents last year and signed a bill to provide $600 million in emergency funding for border security. On the other hand, he also proposed cutting the DHS budget in fy 2012, largely by eliminated funding for the failed electronic fence project. By the way, the House Republican spending bill for the remainder of FY 2011 also proposed to eliminate money for the electronic fence. That doesn't mean either side favors a "porous border"; it means they don't want to spend millions of tax dollars on technology that doesn't work.

At President Bush's request, Congress created the $700 billion toxic asset relief program in 2008. Bush's Treasury Secretary decided to use much of the money to beef up bank balance sheets instead of buying toxic assets. That proved to be a successful strategy, and the Treasury will actually make a few billion dollars off the cash it invested in troubled banks. To the extent that the Obama administration engaged in further bank "bailouts," it was carrying out the law Congress passed in 2008. My impression, though, is that most of the bank resolutions in the past two years have been the FDIC's seizures of failed institutions, not bailouts. There have been more than 320 during the Obama administration, if you're inclined to keep track. That's a statement about the condition of the economy and the housing market, not the Obama administration's stance on bailouts.

Now, some conservatives argue that the financial re-regulation bill that Obama supported would perpetuate bailouts of banks that are "too big to fail." That's a bit like saying the new healthcare reform law would perpetuate the lack of health insurance because it would extend coverage to most but not all uninsured Americans.


We all anxiously await your next column decrying the recent Democrat lies about Republican budget cuts. And do not act like you don't know to what I refer. That liberal tactic is old and tired. Weiner, Schumer, Pelosi, Wassermam-Schultz etc.



Your shallow cliche does NOT constitute a rebuttal of anything I said or the links I used to back them up...feel free to challenge any of the facts I presented.

Do you question the polling accuracy by the world-renowned scientific polling organization Pew Research Center?


I realize the high percentages of Muslims believing in something so barbaric & brutal as Sharia Law are truly shocking. I only post them because it shows that Islamic extremism is far more of a problem than apologists for MILITANT Islam like you& the author of this shallow Op-Ed piece are willing to admit:

% of Muslims who want DEATH PENALTY for those leaving Islam:

Egypt (84%)

Pakistan (82%)


% of Muslims endorsing STONING TO DEATH of adulterers (98% WOMEN):

Egypt (82%)

Pakistan (76%)


It's easy to dismiss outdated pictures of detained Islamic extremists like the picture of the would-be "Millenium Bomber"... that was a bad example of the LEGIT threat of Islamic extremism. A much better example would be a picture of Lara Logan...the CBS television reporter whose brutal sexual assault by a crowd of Muslim "pro-democracy" protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square was TOTALLY covered-up by Al Jazeera, global Muslim media & far too many Western media as well.

Or perhaps a picture of Fort Hood jihadist Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who was personally mentored by Al Qaeda regional leader (AQAP) Anwar Awlaki before screaming "Allahu Akbar" and brutally massacring 13 innocent Americans in November 2009.

The Obama administration did its level best in covering up the obvious fact that Hasan was an Islamic extremist with overseas terrorist connections, trying to portray the worst Islamic terror attack on US soil since 9/11 as merely a case of "work-stress overload".

I dont claim & have never believed that President Obama is a practicing Muslim, but to claim that he is not sympathetic to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt, Iran, etc is simply not realistic.

I'm sure a shallow wannabe "analyst" like yourself finds NOTHING inconsistent or troubling about Obama's support of anti-government protesters in Egypt, Libya, etc while not uttering a single word of support for the anti-government protesters against the Islamic DICTATORSHIP of Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The tyrannical regime of Ahmadinejad continues its reckless development of a deadly nuclear arsenal and Iranians have been protesting & DYING in the streets for much longer than the 3 months since protesters in less oppressive countries like Egypt & Tunisia took to the streets.

Yet the silence of Obama in the face of LEGIT pro-democracy protesters in Iran has been alarmingly conspicuous.

The sad, disturbing fact is that Barack Obama is an appeaser of MILITANT Islam...both here and abroad. Burying your head in the sand will NOT negate that...

Three to five years from now when the Islamic extremists steady rise to power is in full bloom in Egypt, Tunisia and across the Middle East and the landscape is rife with more Ahmadinejads, the best we can expect from apologists like you is "Oooops...".

Laughing at outdated pictures of captured terrorists is no excuse for ignoring the genuine threat, so please get your head out of the sand.

Jon Healey

@tulsadave -- Fair point. I don't go scouring the web for political ads; I wrote about this one because the Tea Party folks sent me a release on it. Nevertheless, I agree that the left is no less cavalier about facts and implications than the right, and have defended the GOP in the past from some of the hysteria on the other side. See, for example, http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2010/08/alan-simpson-social-security-milk-cow.html.

Jon Healey

@Verballistic -- I didn't write this piece to defend Obama's foreign policy, but I think someone should set the record straight. You may wish Obama had been more vocal about Iran, but he hasn't been silent. Witness, for example, this Reuters dispatch from February:

"I find it ironic that you've got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt, when in fact they have acted in direct contrast to what happened in Egypt by gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully," Obama said at a White House news conference.

Obama took heat last year for not taking a more forceful public stance in favor of Iranian protesters in the wake of the bogus election. The administration said he was keeping a low profile deliberately because it would damage the protesters if they were seen within Iran as being supported by the U.S. I see the logic there, but I would also note that there's a good argument on the other side as well. The one thing that's inarguable, I think, is that Obama doesn't have the same freedom to spout off on these issues as you or I do.

I'm no fan of the action in Libya, which The Times' editorial board has publicly opposed. But it's a stretch to blame Obama for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in north Africa and the Middle East. This country's foreign policy for the last several administrations has been built around promoting democratic movements. Once that power is unleashed, it's not up to us to dictate the results. Is George Bush to blame for Hamas taking over the Gaza Strip through the ballot box? Should Obama have sent troops to help pro-U.S. leaders in Egypt and Yemen cling to power? And if it's the bully pulpit you have in mind, what could a U.S. president possibly say to rally youthful Arabs against Islamic extremists?


@Jon Healey

Thanks for your reply amigo...glad to see SOMEONE here is willing to engage in serious debate, instead of tired cliches about "tin-foil hats".

I am not directly blaming Obama for "the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East" but rather am saying he is sympathetic to it, especially after we learned so much about the "hopes of Islamic democracy" from the Hamas electoral victory in Gaza.

Despite voting twice for Bush, I do hold him responsible for the political success of a violent Islamic terrorist group like Hamas (designated as such since Clinton did so in 1997). He obviously didnt know how strong & deep Hamas' support ran among ordinary Palestinians...but now that we ALL have seen how that election turned out, we need to factor that in to all future actions regarding any support we might give (diplomatically, militarily, etc) to the "Islamic democracy" movement.

That is why I posted several times the shocking survey results among ordinary, everyday Muslims in Egypt, Pakistan, etc by world-renowned polling group Pew Research Center:

% of Muslims who want DEATH PENALTY for those leaving Islam:

Egypt (84%)

Pakistan (82%)
% of Muslims endorsing STONING TO DEATH of adulterers (98% WOMEN):

Egypt (82%)

Pakistan (76%)
I think you & most others here would agree that because of the horrendous denial of human rights in Sharia Law, that Sharia is NOT compatible with democracy.

While Obama has given occasional lip-service to anti-Ahmadinejad protests in Iran, he missed a MAJOR opportunity to do so in a more significant manner by addressing them in the context of the "democracy revolution" that has swept the Muslim world in recent months.

Finally, even more troubling about Mr Obama is an issue whose urgency takes on even greater meaning in light of this article just released today, after I had mentioned the issue of appeasing radical Islam in a DOMESTIC context AKA the Fort Hood jihadist massacre of November 2009:


"We have been hearing for years that the White House is withholding evidence on the Fort Hood jihadi, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Now comes direct confirmation of this from Hasan's own lawyer.

Major Hasan, also known as Soldier of Allah, according to his business card, mowed down thirteen U.S. soldiers while screaming Allahu akbar on the Fort Hood military base in Texas a year and a half ago, in November 2009. Yet his trial keeps on being postponed. On March 30, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the outgoing commanding general at Fort Hood, granted a request from John Galligan, Hasan's lawyer, to delay the trial until late April. Galligan, however, disclaims responsibility for all the delays, blaming them on none other than Barack Obama."
"Galligan responded: "Delays are due to prosecution/White House refusal to disclose evidence. Blame them for the delays."

So where is justice? This Islamic supremacist should have been executed by now. What's the hold up? Galligan's blaming Obama is consistent with how the White House has behaved throughout this case. Back in November of 2010, I wrote at Atlas Shrugs that the Obama administration was "still covering up the motivation behind the attack."

Even worse, in October 2010, a soldier at Fort Hood who caught Hasan's jihad murders in two videos on his cell phone camera was ordered by his commanding officer to delete both videos.

This is unacceptable. An army officer ordered the destruction of evidence in a jihadist attack on American soldiers? The officer should be on trial for obstruction of justice.

And back in April 2010, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) had to subpoena the Obama White House to get information it was withholding for a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood jihad massacre.

Meanwhile, the official government report on this jihad mass-murder doesn't mention jihad or Islam at all. Congressman John Carter (R-TX) said that "the Obama Administration continues to deny the Fort Hood attack was terrorism, failed to grant the casualties the same status as that given casualties from the 2001 Pentagon attack, conspicuously omitted even mention of the words 'radical Islamic terrorism' in the official DOD report on the shootings, and will not acknowledge the role of political-correctness in stifling whistleblower warnings of the impending attack."
"Yet Obama has continued to withhold evidence in the Fort Hood jihadist attack and, as Galligan has just revealed, continues to shield the Muslim terrorist.

So crippled has our military (and other branches of government) become by this self-imposed Sharia (do not insult Islam!), that despite the staggering loss of U.S. soldiers in Hasan's Fort Hood massacre, the chief concern of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. in the bloody aftermath of the Fort Hood jihad was that "speculation could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers and what happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an EVEN GREATER tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here."
Very troubling indeed...from Obama to Casey & the military superiors who IGNORED Hasan's repeated expression of his Islamic extremist beliefs LONG BEFORE the actual massacre took place. Not only could this have been PREVENTED, the reckless actions of the Obama administration in the current milieu will only make future similar attacks TOUGHER to prevent.

Thanks again for adding to this rational discussion.



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